Our space science Economy has assets

An artist’s depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at work at the asteroid Bennu. (Image: © NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe could make a 2nd stop at infamous asteroid Apophis, at Space.com, and noted in several space related blogs, eMags. This sounds like a fantastic use of a remarkable space asset.

The Japanese asteroid prospector Hayabusa2 dropped off its samples from Ryugu at Earth and is on its way for more exploration last year: Farewell, Ryugu! Japan’s Hayabusa2 Probe Leaves Asteroid for Journey Home

These craft and others such as craft like the voyagers continue to return immensely valuable data long after their primary mission is complete. One of the things NASA and other space science organizations struggle with is supporting these ships long after the original funding timeline is past. This is a great problem to have and by and large the money is found since these are very cheap deep space projects in the big picture.

So my title, the economy of ‘outer space’ is all about data, science, prospecting right now. These are valuable assets that we need to support to provide returns orders of magnitude greater than the cost in the sense of other ways of getting that data, data that is both live affirming in its fascination and valuable as part of the bedrock of our understanding of the universe.


Cool Stars, Kinda Literally

Image: This artist’s conception illustrates what brown dwarfs of different types might look like to a hypothetical interstellar traveler who has flown a spaceship to each one…. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

There are a class of celestial objects much heavier than our systems Jupiter but about the same size. They are not really planets just balls of dense hot gas, but they are not really stars because they lack the mass to collapse and heat their core to ignite sustained fusion. These Brown Dwarves are probably one of the most common objects in our universe but little is known about them because until recently they were essentially impossible to find. With new tools and new techniques this fascinating class of in between are coming into focus.

Another fascinating article from Centauri Dreams.

Juno extended mission

Juno at Jupiter: Extended Mission Flybys of Galilean Moons
by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 11, 2021, Centauri Dreams

The proposed Juno extended mission (EM) would take advantage of the natural northward progression of the periapsis of the spacecraft’s orbit and the consequent lowering of spacecraft altitudes over Jupiter’s high northern latitudes. The EM would run until the end of the mission, with an expected duration of approximately four years. Under the High and Medium Scenarios, propulsive maneuvers would be utilized not only to target Jupiter-crossing longitude and perijove altitude, as during the prime mission, but also to target close flybys of Ganymede, Europa, and Io. The flyby maneuvers would act to shorten the spacecraft orbital period, yielding more close passes of Jupiter within a given time interval, and increase the rate of northward movement of spacecraft perijove. Under the Low scenario for EM operation, the satellite gravity assists and close satellite flybys would not be attempted.

from the Senior Review

Exciting new data from Jupiter inbound over the next 5 years. Just in time for this….

SpaceX starship at Jupiter (early concept)


I follow Centauri Dreams closely, it is a very good source on fascinating articles about what might be called the near universe and our ability to explore it. Dealing with the outer solar system and beyond, near future realistic interstellar exploration in all its technical gore.

A recent article (A Statite ‘Slingshot’ for Catching Interstellar Objects by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 5, 2021) dealt with how to intercept/flyby interstellar objects (ISO) like ‘Oumuamua’ the icicleoid. This is very much in line with Arthur C. Clark’s classic (and my near all time favorite Science Fiction) Rendezvous with Rama, about the passage of a vast interstellar space ship through Sol system and a desperate dangerous mission to intercept and explore.

With current technology this appears impossible, you’d have to plan and launch a mission with a Falcon Heavy class craft in a few months to have any kind of chance. But there is a near term possible technology that makes it almost easy. The Statite is a ‘satellite’ that uses a solar sail to ‘hover’ instead of kinetic energy to orbit. Essentially this is storing energy and either the main vehicle or a cube sat sized sub satellite can be dropped straight down the gravity well to gain the velocity required to get the flyby in time. This is REALLY COOL stuff….

From the article, A Statite ‘Slingshot’ for Catching Interstellar Objects.

Icy moons, exciting targets of exploration

The Interior of Enceladus Looks Really Great for Supporting Life
Article in UniverseToday on one of Saturn’s moons

In the early days of space exploration it was the rocky planets, particularly Mars and Venus that held some hope of significant life. Though those with the tools of observation and analysis were pretty negative and life in the rest of the solar system looked impossible. But as our knowledge and tools expanded the icy moons quickly became of interest because as cold region natives know, ice is not a bad insulator and a couple of miles of it would protect a lake. These days it seems pretty clear that Icy Moons often have oceans, seas or lakes inside, and the heat that melts the ice from underneath (from orbital stresses and or radioactive decay) could quite conceivably support life.

The article linked discusses model based research based on data from earlier orbiters and flybys. It shows that notionally their are several mechanisms that could be feeding nutrients and energy sources into the ocean of Enceladus, at a rate suffient to support a significant biome.

There are lots of other interesting articles on space at universe today website, take a look.

Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe

Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe Ethan Siegel at Starts With A Bang!

How the mis-application of the Anthropic Principle has led factions of scientists away from the search for a natural, physical explanation of our Universe, and why that’s bad for everyone.

20140105-114648.jpgImage credit: ESO / T. Preibisch, via http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1208a/

One of the first things you notice — and it’s self-evident if you think about it — is that the Universe is full of stuff. This in itself is a wondrous thing, because it didn’t need to be that way.

I always figured You were a Martian!


“The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” says Professor Benner. “It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell.”

Read more at: phys.org

Ten thousandth near-Earth object unearthed in space

20130625-180902.jpgAsteroid 2013 MZ5 as seen in this University of Hawaii picture from the PanSTARR-1 telescope. The Asteroid is in the right of the image, towards the top, moving diagonally left/down. Credit: PS-1/UH
Read more at:Ten thousandth near-Earth object unearthed in space

“Finding 10,000 near-Earth objects is a significant milestone,” said Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “But there are at least 10 times that many more to be found before we can be assured we will have found any and all that could impact and do significant harm to the citizens of Earth.” During Johnson’s decade-long tenure, 76 percent of the NEO discoveries have been made.

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets that can approach the Earth’s orbital distance to within about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers). They range in size from as small as a few feet to as large as 25 miles (41 kilometers) for the largest near-Earth asteroid, 1036 Ganymed.

Asteroid 2013 MZ5 is approximately 1,000 feet (300 meters) across. Its orbit is well understood and will not approach close enough to Earth to be considered potentially hazardous.

Lots of resources to be developed for the expansion of humanity in space and the reduction of our impact on Earth, in a half century or so, when we will really understand we need it.

I always knew you were a Hologram!

Professor Skenderis has developed a mathematic model which finds striking similarities between flat space-time and negatively curved space-time, with the latter however formulated in a negative number of dimensions, beyond our realm of physical perception.
He comments: “According to holography, at a fundamental level the universe has one less dimension than we perceive in everyday life and is governed by laws similar to electromagnetism. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card, but now it is the entire Universe that is encoded in such a fashion.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-mathematical-links-space-time-theories.html
This sounds cool and provides my SciFi writing persona just oodles of rope.20130530-212049.jpg